Like Lauren and her husband James, Ste and I renovated our entire first house ourselves from scratch even including a reclaimed parquet floor that we bought for the bargainous total of £200 on eBay and which we restored and laid lovingly piece by piece in a herringbone pattern on the ground floor. Despite Ste’s protestations that he would never ever do it again (the floor that is not the general renovation side of things) I’ve managed to persuade him to recreate the look in our new house which you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the next few weeks.
If you’ve been following my refurb journey on these pages then you’ll know that Ste and I bought a three bed semi-detached 1920s property on the Bournville Village Trust some time ago now and stripped it right back to brick. At one stage you could stand in the hallway and see all the way through the house to the rafters in the roof. There was a point when I thought it would never be finished but I’m happy to say that the whole of the upstairs is now plastered apart from two walls for plumbing purposes and Ste has given the nod for me to start purchasing radiators and baths, shower valves and taps. Who knew a girl could get so excited about scoring a toilet bargain in the sales!
Anyway I digress, today’s post, inspired by a Hertfordshire based company, is all about DIY…specifically parquet floors and our tips and tricks that we took away from installing our very own reclaimed tiles over five years ago. I should caveat that this is not a step by step guide on how to lay such a floor (google is your best bet for this) but more the sharing of my experience of doing so and the lessons I want to pass onto others attempting to do the same thing. I’ve tried to break these down into bullet points but I apologise if this post is a little long-winded.
- 1. Decide what type of parquet floor you want; this sounds ridiculous but the choices are endless. Reclaimed or new blocks? Oak or ash? Lacquered or oiled? Small blocks or large? The options available can seem a bit daunting at first so my recommendation would be to pin those images that make your heart beat a little faster onto a dedicated Pinterest board (or equally ripped out pictures in a scrapbook would do equally as well). Once you’ve collected a few images a common theme should emerge; be strict with yourself however…only those truly amazing floor layouts should make the cut.
- 2. Preparation is paramount. Ste has acquiesced to a parquet floor in our new house on the condition that we buy new blocks only. Our last floor was reclaimed but we spent hours scraping the bitumen (used as an adhesive in days of old!) off the back of the oak tiles. This was partly because bitumen is carcinogenic and partly so that we had a smooth surface to lay our blocks on. We also had to hire a planer to ensure the backs were really smooth. What will you be laying onto? Have you considered an expansion gap in case the floor expands/moves? Make sure you take the time and labour costs into consideration if you do go down the reclaimed route. Will it be worth it for you?
- 3. Old and new is just one consideration. Do you want long blocks of parquet or smaller brick sized shapes? What about your finish? Obviously the associated costs will have an impact on this…I know I have champagne tastes on a prosecco budget but I am prepared to shop around for the best deal even if it means staying up until midnight researching whilst Hector is in bed asleep.
- 4. Invest in the best adhesive you can afford to buy. This was probably the most expensive part of our DIY efforts but a decision I’m so glad we chose not to skimp on. And if you don’t own a mitre saw (to cut the blocks) or a planer then it’s worth borrowing off a friend to keep costs down if possible.
- 5. Research, research and research again. We must have googled a million different herringbone parquet tutorials before we began to lay the floor and laid it out carefully before any glue was applied. We sighted with a string line, which is essential really. The first two courses – the soldier course – should be left for a day or two to dry, then your subsequent courses can be added later knowing that your floor won’t run out of alignment. This prevented any expensive mistakes being made and the floor looking skewiff .
- 6. Be prepared to spend hours prepping and laying if you decide to DIY the floor yourself particularly if you’re opting for reclaimed blocks and if you have a large surface area. It’s also worth taking the time to pre-sort the blocks before laying them – discarding those that are damaged or noticeably bigger/smaller than the rest.
- 7. Consider calling in the professionals for the finishing touches. We decided that paying £500 for having the floor sanded and varnished (with a clear satin finish) by a dedicated parquet professional was worth every penny. We just didn’t trust ourselves to not f**k up all our hard work in one fell swoop. Plus Ste had just about reached the end of his tether with the floor by that stage.
So I guess you might be wondering what the gallery of super beautiful images is about above? Well that’s the look that I’m hoping to achieve in our new kitchen and hallway. We’ve decided a pale hue would work best with our intended dark cupboard colour scheme and we feel the large blocks as opposed to the smaller brick shaped designs would look most effective. And of course we’ll be opting for a herringbone layout. That said I am struggling with trying to decide on what type of wood to use? Oak can take on a slightly yellowy hue once a finishing product/sealant is applied to it and that’s something I’m keen to avoid. If there are any wood specialists amongst you then I’m very keen to hear your thoughts.
Have any of you laid a parquet floor? Or intending to? Perhaps you’ve inherited one instead; if so I’m so incredibly jealous. Why not share your thoughts in the comments below…
Header image via Trunk Surfaces